jan 28/BIKERUN

bike: 25 minutes
run: 1.8 miles
outside: 5 degrees / feels like -10

Needed to move a little, but too cold for Delia to take a walk. Started watching the first episode of Dickinson while I biked, listened to a podcast (episode 2 of “Nobody Asked Us”) while I ran. In the short bit of the podcast I listened to, Des and Kara talked about resolutions, which neither of them do, and goals. Des mentioned that goals should be big but not so big that they’re paralyzing and that the the timeline for accomplishing them might be different than we expect. I started thinking about goals for my running and writing. Some of my goals are specific, like a mileage total. Last year, it was 1000 miles. But most of them are broad or vague or more of a guide than one concrete goal, like these:

  • to keep running into my 70s (I’m 47)
  • to slow down
  • to be satisfied with the small moments
  • to find better words for connecting me to others and to a specific place
  • to be open, not closed
  • to learn to listen (and to see differently) as I lose my central vision

I decided to go back through my archives to find other posts were I’ve discussed goals (search word: goal). Here are a few:

nov 7, 2022 — on living to an old age and still running
oct 31, 2022 — on running 1000 miles in one year
sept 20, 2022 — on being open (and keeping the door open to possibility)
may 4, 2022 — on slowing down

Ok, I’ll stop there. I have 5 pages / 90 entries with the word goal. Wow. I’d like to spend more time skimming them and finding bits to add to my Undisciplined page on purpose/goals. So much to think and write about with goals.

jan 27/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
24 degrees / feels like 9
wind: 16 mph / path: 99% snow-covered

This run was both hard and easy, and I loved it. Hard because of the wind, often in my face, and the soft, slippery snow. Easy because it felt so good to be outside and moving through the wintery world.

Even with yak trax, the soft snow makes it harder for me to lift my legs. Today I felt it in my right knee — what I call the “OG” knee because it’s the one that first started giving me problems (my kneecap was slipping out of the groove) and that led to never doing the marathon. Every so often, a short sharp pang. Nothing too alarming, just enough to remind me that my body is still here, tethering me to the world. I started thinking about Thomas Gardner and something I wrote almost exactly (one day off) 6 years ago, right after I started writing in this blog:

My right calf is still a little stiff from where I strained it last week doing mile repeats in the cold. Just enough to not let me out of my body.

Poverty Creek Journal/ Thomas Gardner

I wrote: “Even as we try to transcend our bodies while running, we are constantly reminded of our limits. We are bodies. We need that reminder to ground us and to keep us from getting too lost in the dreamlike state that running creates (jan 26, 2017).

As I ran this morning, I thought about how I like that running outside in the winter tethers/connects me to my body. It’s impossible for me to get too lost in any dreamlike state, or any one thought or series of thoughts. The path, the wind, the cold always brings me back to my body. Sometimes, bringing me back to my body involves suffering and complaining, but more often it is about grounding me and helping me to stop overthinking things. Of course, these reflections only came in flashes that lasted less than a minute or two. When I’m running, I can’t hold onto thoughts for longer than that. Now, as I write this, I’m sure that I’m missing something else I was thinking while moving. It all made so much sense as flashes and feelings. Much harder to remember it and put it into words later!

10 Things I Noticed: Wind

  1. running south, the wind was in my face
  2. cold, but not brain-freeze cold
  3. strong, but not strong enough to shove me off the path
  4. I could hear it rushing through the dead leaves on the trees in the oak savanna — sizzling
  5. it stirred up an occasional dead leaf from the ground
  6. at one point, I felt the spray of water on my cheek — was that the wind blowing the snow? probably
  7. ahead of me on the trail, I could see something big-gish — was it a chunk of hard snow or ice? no, it was a branch with a few orange leaves on it. As I ran past it I was startled when the wind picked up and made it move slightly
  8. near the falls, I felt the wind from several directions — was it swirling, or was I winding, or both?
  9. no sledders enjoying the hill — is this because of the strong wind?
  10. the wind was not loud enough to roar, but it seemed to grumble non-stop for most of my run

Found this poem the other day when it showed up in my instagram feed. It’s from episode #799 for The Slowdown Show:

Fragment (Stone)/ Ann Lauterbach

                         What has a soul, or pain, to do with a stone? 
                                                                                               –Ludwig Wittgenstein

You could walk not far through the grass to the shed barefoot
restless eye landing on distance there not far you could walk
looking down at various grasses weeds clover along the way
your toes in the green the undersides of your feet the cool damp
where is significance you think as you imagine walking across
grass to the shed barefoot what counts here does anything count
on the short walk while looking down and then over then up
at the catbird in the lilac where there are now dry brown sprays
at the robin hopping in the grass over there what counts you ask
incredulous at the pace not your pace the pace of time as if
rolling downhill gathering speed wound around
itself like giant twine but invisible so not present
in the sense of seen the way you assign to the visible presence
even as what is on your mind as you walk across the grass toward
the shed is invisible names their persons hunger mistakes
the lost and the recently slaughtered because of words
believed by the hopeless lost from view tossed
into the past like a weed a rind a stone found in grass
so find solace in the particular single crow high in the dead ash
its one-note cry sky pale blue low light sliding across wires.

I was drawn to this poem because it reminded me of how I think and how I notice as I’m walking. Lots of wandering and words running together without a break. One thought into the next. From here to here to here.

jan 26/SWIM

1.5 miles
ywca pool
outdoor temp: 14 degrees

Swim! I wouldn’t have minded running in the cold today. It’s sunny and bright. But I’m trying to swim at least once a week. Partly because I love swimming, partly because it feels good after a few hard runs on the rough paths. Today’s swim was wonderful. Only one other person in the pool. The sun was streaming in the big windows and making the whole pool floor dance with shadows.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the woman next to me was wearing a swim cap that looked like it was from open swim. I wanted to ask her, but we were never stopped at the same time
  2. she was in a black suit — I think it was a tri suit. She swam breaststroke and freestyle and also ran in the deep end, her legs pedaling under the water
  3. there was something big and white on the pool floor, right on the part that slants down — what was it? I couldn’t tell*
  4. after the woman next to me left, I was alone in the pool for most of the time
  5. shadows on the pool floor, 1: faint, from the trees outside, flickering gently
  6. shadows on the pool floor, 2: a sharp, long cylinder of darkness — the lane line
  7. shadows on the pool floor, 3: the sun brightened and more dancing shadows with a long strip of light
  8. shadows on the pool floor, 4: in the lane next to me, a small ball of light — the opposite of a shadow, glowing. In the shallow end of the pool. I could see it from the far end after finishing my flip turn
  9. colors noticed: orange (of course), blue, a little green, yellow (maybe?) near the door to the locker room
  10. not always, but sometimes, I noticed the small bubbles my hands made as they pierced the water

*the white thing on the bottom was very distracting. What is it? I kept looking down, trying to study it, but with my bad eyes, I didn’t have a chance. It was almost the size of my fist. I thought about swimming down and picking it up. Gross! I decided one of the kids on the Otter’s swim team would probably pick it up during practice this afternoon.

The only one in the pool, nearly submerged for 45 minutes, I felt alone and not alone:

Alone and Not Alone/ Carl Sandburg

There must be a place
a room and a sanctuary
set apart for silence
for shadows and roses
holding aware in walls
the sea and its secrets
gong clamor gone still
in a long deep sea-wash
aware always of gongs
vanishing before shadows
of roses repeating themes
of ferns standing still
till wind blows over them:
great hunger may bring these
into one little room
set apart for silence

I found this poem last week and have been wondering when to post it. Today was the day. I like Carl Sandburg and his space for shadows, his sea and its secrets, his one little room set apart for silence!

jan 25/RUN

5.4 miles
bottom of the franklin hill and back
30 degrees / snowing
100% soft snow-covered

What a wonderful run! Even the soft, slippery snow couldn’t bother me. So difficult to move through, nothing solid or stable. Who cares? I got to run outside by the gorge when it was snowing! A soft, steady snow. A winter wonderland. The sky was a light gray, almost white. The river was a grayish brownish blue. I liked watching the headlights from the cars as they approached. The bright lights cutting through the gray — not gloomy, but monotonous.

At the start of my run, I smelled smoke from someone’s chimney.
I heard the birds chattering.
I felt my feet slipping on the soft, uneven ground.
I saw a walker up ahead on the road, waving their arms in an awkward rhythm.
Did I taste anything — a snowflake, maybe?

No fat tires or cross country skiers. A few sets of runners — or was it the same set seen twice? No honking horns from cars. Although I did hear some geese honking under the trestle. And I also heard the steady rush of cars moving across the 1-94 bridge.

At the end of my run, I heard the irritating screech of a blue jay. I wondered (and hope) that once I passed and the danger was over, I might hear the sharp, tin-whistle sound of a blue jay’s song. Nope.

In the middle of my run, after turning around at the bottom of the franklin hill and then running until I reached the bridge, I stopped to pull out my phone and record some thoughts and sounds:

jan 25 / halfway point

It’s difficult to pick up, but in the middle, when I stop talking and stop walking, you can hear the soft tinkle-tinkle of the snow hitting my jacket. In the moment, standing there, the sound was much louder and so delightful! Hearing it, then looking down at the still river and up at quiet gray sky and the bare branches, was magical.

I found this poem on twitter this morning. I decided to add it to my collection of dirt/dust/earth poems that I started during my monthly challenge last April. I also decided to add it here:

Return to Sender/ Matthew Olzman

To the topsoil and subsoil: returned.
To hums and blistered rock: returned.

To the kingdom of the masked chafer beetle,
the nematode and the root maggot: returned.

To the darkness were a solitary star-nosed mole
arranger her possessions and pulses

through a slow hallway, and to the vastness
where twenty-thousand garden ants compose

a tangled metropolis: returned.
it was summer, and they lowered

a body into the ground. I did not say
they lowered you into the ground.

It seemed like you were elsewhere, but the preacher
insisted: And now, he returns to the One who made him.

Most likely, he meant: God. But I thought
he meant the Earth, that immensity

where everything changes, buzzes, is alive again and —

The poetry person who tweeted about this poem especially liked the twenty-thousand garden ants and the italics from the preacher. I like the possessions and pulses, the tangled metropolis, the separation between body and You, and the idea that the maker we return to (and are reborn in) is the Earth.

jan 24/WALKRUN

walk: 20 minutes
neighborhood with Delia the dog

Went out for a brief walk through the neighborhood and listened to the birds. I love the sounds of birds, especially in the winter. Lots of chattering, making it feel warmer than it was. Then I heard the rapid knocking of the woodpecker. It echoed down the block. Passing under a tree, I heard a strange sound. Was it a bird, or a squirrel? I’m not sure. Did I see any of the birds that I heard? I don’t think so.

3 miles
ywca track

Ran at the track in the afternoon with Scott. We didn’t run together, but at the same time. I intended to listen to music, but I forgot the extra dongle I need for my headphones. Oh well, running without music was fine. In fact, I liked it. Hearing my feet striking the track, the basketball shoes down below squeaking on the gym floor, the battle ropes forcefully striking the ground. Did I think about anything? I can’t remember much. I do recall thinking about my form — keeping my shoulders relaxed — and noticing the time every few laps. Can i think of 10 other things?

10 Things I Noticed

  1. a man boxing in the corner — I could hear him hit the punching back, see it swinging back and forth
  2. when I first got there a tall man in a blue shirt was running. Later, he stopped running and was walking
  3. a man in dark sweatpants and a tan shirt, or was it a dark shirt and tan sweatpants?, was running and working hard. As I passed him, I could hear his jagged breathing
  4. a blur below — a guy sprinting on the track
  5. a woman in black, walking and veering into the middle
  6. 2 different sets of walkers, talking and slowly traveling around the track
  7. someone on a spin bike in corner
  8. a man sitting on a bench by the door –were they watching me as I ran by?
  9. a runner in a white t-shirt and black running tights, looking relaxed
  10. near the end of the run, someone was pushing the heavy sled in the corner

While drinking my coffee this morning, I found this video abut Ice Swimming. I’m not interested in trying it out, although I wouldn’t mind swimming in an outdoor pool in the winter.

note: I’m adding this poem in a few days later because it fits with the video.

Cold Shock Response/Anna Swanson

Note: All words (with the exception of title) transcribed from garbage found in the Cape Broyle swimming hole, NL.

mouthfuls. No skill or aim,

only appetite in gloves of slush.
Gasp, we grab at the air

before asking, Is there air?
Alight with cold, classroom 

potassium dropped in water. 
Blood, punching. Our old code

calling. We gasp, cold bells
that cannot stop ringing.

Love that line about being cold bells that can’t stop ringing! A few months ago, I put together a page on my “How to Be” project over at Undisciplined. It was “How to be…a bell.” I included several poems and songs and passages about bells. Unfortunately that page was erased and I haven’t tried to recreate it. If I do, I’ll add this poem to it.

jan 23/RUN

4.1 miles
river road path, north/south
24 degrees
90% snow and ice-covered

More of the same very poor path conditions. Hard, rutted, uneven ice and snow. So hard to move through! My legs are sore again. Sore like I worked them, not like I injured them.Two days ago, it was one of the muscles in my right quads — looked it up and I think it was the rectus femoris. Today it’s my calves. I looked at the river — open, brown, cold. Ran north with no headphones, listening to the crunching of my yak trax on the crusty snow. Listened to Beyoncé’s Renaissance on the way back. Smelled fried food wafting down from Longfellow Grill. Ran past the port-a-potty under the lake street bridge, the door was wide open. Noticed a walker hiking up the road that leads down to the rowing club. Encountered 2 different runners with their dogs. One of the runners was extra cautious, stopping and holding their dog as I ran by. Anything else? Smelled some cigarette smoke.

Almost forget: it was snowing at the beginning of my run. I remember thinking the falling flakes looked like something flashing — what? I can’t remember now. All I remember was that the sky was falling and it was beautiful.

This morning, I found an amazing poetry project by Anna Swanson called “The Garbage Poems.” It’s a series of found poems composed of words taken from the trash she found at swimming holes. She has an interactive site for the poems where you can create your own garbage poems. You can also read her poems and click on each word to find which garbage it came from. How amazing! I’m very excited to have encountered her work. Not only are these poems amazing, but she has also written many others about wild swimming!

The Garbage Poems


walk: 25 minutes
winchell trail between 44th and 42nd
17 degrees / snow flurries

I needed some pictures for my class, so Scott, Delia, and I took a walk by the gorge. Because of the slippery conditions we drove to the parking lot, then slowly walked around. Scott took some great pictures, Delia had fun romping around in the snow, and I loved breathing in all the cold, crisp air!

Here’s one of my favorite shots:

bare trees, snow, a person in a green jacket with a small white dog in a cute sweater
Sara and Delia, the Winchell Trail

A beautiful walk. Near the end of it, we noticed it was snowing. Saw lots of walkers and runners out there this morning.

bike: 25 minutes

Felt like I wanted to work my legs a little more this afternoon — thanks, restlessness — so I decided to do a short bike ride in the basement. Watched new videos from the 2 running YouTubers I follow. Didn’t bike that fast, but it felt good to move some more after sitting and reading most of the afternoon. Current book: Mornings with Rosemary, which is the American title for the British book, The Lido. I prefer the British title, especially since the book is all about the lido. American audiences can figure out what a lido is, I think. If they grew up in the late 70s and 80s like me, they should know what a lido is from The Love Boat and its lido deck!

jan 21/RUN

4.5 miles
minnehaha falls and back
21 degrees
99% snow and ice-covered

A common refrain: if only the path hadn’t been so icy and snowy, this would have been a near-perfect run. Loved the temperature and the grayish-white sky. Loved feeling strong and capable. Loved being outside moving and not stuck in the house. The only problem was the path. Terrible. Uneven, hard, rutted, slippery. Wearing my yaktrax helped a little, but it was still difficult. About a mile in, my right thigh was sore — I think from the extra effort of picking it up off of the slippery path. Thought about turning around, but decided to keep going to the falls and back.

Was able to Good Morning! Mr. Morning! Also gave some directions to the falls — up the hill. Passed a lot of runners and walkers. Can’t remember in there were any bikers — oh, I saw someone biking ahead me on the road, both of us on our way to the river.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the cry of a pileated woodpecker
  2. a fine mist — was it barely snowing?
  3. a quick glance at the oak savanna — the split rail fence is sagging in one spot. I couldn’t tell for sure but I think the top 2 railings might have split
  4. a person standing in the snow near the part of the Winchell Trail that climbs out of the gorge for a few seconds near Folwell before dropping down again
  5. a woman walking a dog near the falls in a long light gray puffer coat that almost reached her ankles
  6. voices below — I stopped to look and saw someone walking closer to the bottom of the frozen falls
  7. 2 people standing above the falls, holding a phone high in front of them, taking a selfie
  8. off to my side, a leaning tree covered in white on one side
  9. at the start of the run, hearing a nail gun off in the distance — probably roofers
  10. 2 different times I encountered a walker wearing an orange backpack — 2 different times, 2 different walkers, 2 different backpacks, both orange

Did I see those orange backpacks? I believe I did, but I’ve been seeing a lot of orange lately. It’s one of the only colors that I notice these days. Strange.

Forgot to look at the river. I bet it was still brown.

jan 20/RUN

4.35 miles
river road trail, north/south
27 degrees
99% ice and snow-covered path, slick

Very slick outside today. A lot of ice covered with an inch or two of snow. That part of it wasn’t fun, but the rest of it — the cold air, the open river, the gray sky — was wonderful. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker. Passed Daddy Long Legs. Noticed all of the rusty orange leaves still on the trees near the tunnel of trees. Heard goose honks under the lake street bridge. Later, also heard some runner coughing as he crossed the bridge then turned down to enter the river road. No! Every few seconds, a deep cough, full of gunk. I sped up to try and stay ahead of him and his germs. It worked. For a few minutes, I kept hearing the jagged coughs, then it stopped.

Anything else? The river was brownish-gray, the sky sunless.
No headphones for most of the run. During the last mile, I put in an old coming-back-from-injury playlist: I heard “Upside Down” and “Fantastic Voyage.”

FWA is on band tour in Spain and France right now. 29 years ago, Scott and I were on our European band tour. 29 years ago? Wow. Very excited for FWA.

Sitting at my desk, writing this, I’m also looking outside my window at the robins running around on the snow and rooting in the hydrangea bushes for twigs? seeds? Quietly, they scamper then fly low right in front of me. What are they looking for?

Encountered a beautiful poem on twitter this morning that I thought I had already posted on my log but hadn’t.

A Stranger/ Saeed Jones

I wonder if my dead mother still thinks of me.
I know I don’t know her new name. I don’t know  

her, not now. I don’t know if “her” is the word
burning in a stranger’s mind when he sees my dead  

mother walking down the street in her bright black dress.
I wonder if he inhales the cigarette smoke  

that will eventually kill him and thinks “I wish I knew
a woman who was both the light and every shadow  

the light pierces.” I wonder if a passing glance at my dead
mother is enough to make a poet out of anyone. I wonder  

if I’m the song she hums as she waits for the light to change
or if I’m just the traffic signal holding her up.

This poem was posted as part of a thread. I want to post the next one, which is by Todd Dillard (one of my favorite poetry people). I like his introduction of the poem in a tweet:

I have so many poems also grieving my dead mother by giving her a kind of life after life.

Mom Hires a Stunt Double/ Todd Dillard

Sick of all the impossible I ask of her
in these my griefiest poems,

Mom hires a stunt double: same white hair,
same laugh, same false teeth, same dead.

Now when I write “Mom curls like rinds in a bowl”
it’s her stunt double twisting herself into pithy canoes.

When I write “At night my mother sheds
the skin of my mother revealing more mother”

it’s her stunt double that unzips her body,
stands there all shiver and muscle and tendon,

waiting for the next line. “What’s in it for you?”
I ask, and Mom’s stunt double shrugs,

lighting one of those familiar Turkish Silvers
as behind her my mother mounts a Harley

and barrels into the margins. “You’re a good kid,”
the double says. But she doesn’t touch my hair.

This close to her, her eyes are all pupil,
all ink. Her smell: paper and snow.

When she exhales smoke spills from her lips
and unfolds into horses.

Oh, I love both of these poems!

jan 19/SWIM

1.6 miles
ywca pool
outside: snowing (2+ inches)
31 degrees

Hooray for another swim. Such a good feeling to be moving through the water. Maybe it was because it was still snowing, but the pool was almost empty. Excellent. Mostly, I swam continuous 200s, breathing 3/4/5/6 by 50s. Starting the second mile, I tried something new, partly as a way to stretch my legs/bend my knees without stopping: I added in an occasional 25 of breaststroke. It seemed to work well.

dancing shadows

About 1000 yards in, I noticed the pool floor was moving slightly. I think it was the faint shadows of the snowflakes falling* on the other side of the big windows that stretch across the one side of the building. It made everything feel magical and dreamy and strange.

*Actually, when I was swimming, I thought the shadows were from the trees. It wasn’t until I was writing this entry, right now, that I realized it was probably the falling snow making the dancing shadows. Very cool. I think if I had realized that it was the snow, the whole experience of swimming would have felt even stranger and dreamier.

In addition to the moving shadows, I saw one solid shadow line stretching the length of the pool — a shadow of the lane line. Where was that shadow coming from? The bright ceiling light or the light from the snowy sky?

Seeing these shadows and continuing to pay attention to them, shifted me into a different state of being, one that was dreamier and surreal, and where I rethought what was possible or impossible. I imagined the water as air that I was swimming through. When I reached the deep end and looked down at the pool floor below me, I imagined that I was flying high above the ground through empty space. How fun and distracting. I forgot how many flip turns I had done, how many laps I still wanted to do.

Some other things I noticed:

  1. the sloshing of the water (below)
  2. the loud voices of some women talking and joking (above)
  3. the water running guy, doing running drills in the shallow end, then pushing off and vigorously kicking in the deep end, then finishing with some freestyle
  4. everything seemed blue below
  5. everything orange above
  6. the water was not completely clear, but wasn’t that cloudy either
  7. no harsh chlorine feeling
  8. I swam in lane 2, no one ever swam in lane 3, running dude was in lane 5
  9. nothing floating in the water, only random bits of something on the pool floor
  10. little bubbles in front of me as I sliced through the water and a slight spray as I lifted my elbow up into the air

Remembered reading a description of swim practice and the pool early in the morning, thick with a chlorine haze, in Leanne Shapton’s Swimming Lessons. Thought it might be nice to collect a few pool descriptions. Also thought about composing some more swimming breathing poems, where syllables match my breaths: 3/4/5/6.

Happy Birthday, Edgar Allen Poe (b. Jan 19, 1809)

I randomly searched, “Edgar Allen Poe swimming” and discovered that he was a swimmer! I had no idea. I founded a promising article, “Edgar Allen Poe — Exercise Enthusiast,” but it was beyond a paywall so I couldn’t read it. Then I found this bit of information on a listicle about him:

Poe was a big fan of the long walk. He took many solitary strolls over High Bridge in the Bronx in 1847, after his wife Virginia died. There, staring up at the stars, he would conceive his lengthy cosmic prose poem, Eureka. But he also liked rowing and swimming: as a young lad, he was renowned among his friends for swimming six miles upriver in the Charles River in Virginia, and when he moved to New York City (for the second time) in 1844, one of his first acts was to row a skiff up the East River, all the way up past Roosevelt Island.

sidenote: I want to write a poem titled, “Edgar Allen Poe — Exercise Enthusiast”!